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Apple's iPhone Developer License Agreement Revealed 483

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-agree-not-to-be-google dept.
nigham writes "The EFF is publicly disclosing a version of Apple's iPhone developer program license agreement. The highlights: you can't disclose the agreement itself (the EFF managed to get it via the Freedom of Information Act thanks to NASA's recent app), Apple reserves the right to kill your app at any time with no reason, and Apple's liability in any circumstance is limited to 50 bucks. There's also this gem: 'You will not, through use of the Apple Software, services or otherwise create any Application or other program that would disable, hack, or otherwise interfere with the Security Solution, or any security, digital signing, digital rights management, verification or authentication mechanisms implemented in or by the iPhone operating system software, iPod Touch operating system software, this Apple Software, any services or other Apple software or technology, or enable others to do so.' The entire agreement (PDF) is up at the EFF's site."
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Apple's iPhone Developer License Agreement Revealed

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  • I Love my iPhone But (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fantom42 (174630) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @10:45AM (#31413516)

    I don't like the way this reads. Apple does need to exert some control over their device in order to preserve their branding, but IMHO some of the draconian shit in here goes way to far.

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @10:53AM (#31413622) Homepage Journal
    Actually that agreement has some pretty decent customer protection clauses. ie.: not to use Push Notifications to spam, phish or advertise, not to use unnecessary traffic on the cellular network.

    One that caught my eye was no VoIP over the cellular network.
  • by srussia (884021) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @11:04AM (#31413744)
    They are in violation of the agreement after all for disclosing it.
  • Same old Apple (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @11:11AM (#31413848) Homepage Journal

    I think this is part of Apple's corporate culture - they never signed on to the OS as an "open(ish) platform" thing that PC users (and unix geeks to an even greater extent) came to expect. I don't know what we can do but not buy their products - it's a pity because I'd generally like to suggest that non-tech people go with OSX (and tech folk should go with Linux or OpenBSD), but I don't like supporting companies that do this kind of thing.

  • by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @11:15AM (#31413902) Homepage Journal


    to rephrase the mantra: if microsoft had these requirements on developing software for Windows operating systems, you'd be typing up a furious reply condemning "M$."

    Actually, I wouldn't. See, I'm not a developer. I'm in the industry (security/networking) but in this instance, I'm considered a consumer. And the agreement that Apple has devs sign is good IMO, because of the "end user" protections that are in place.

    But what do I know, I mean, I'm not a developer.

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @11:17AM (#31413938)

    They are in violation of the agreement after all for disclosing it.

    Too many people like NASA, that would be bad PR.

    However, I expect thats the last app from the government that will ever be approved. Now those apps can still be developed and operated by 3rd parties upon contract by the govt, but we'll probably never see an "official census dept historical genealogy app", which is too bad.

  • Re:Gem? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @11:17AM (#31413946)

    The thing is, it also says "or enable others to do so.". That basically means that you aren't allowed any vulnerabilities at all which is infeasible (and hard to prove).

  • by Speare (84249) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @11:19AM (#31413976) Homepage Journal
    The only thing I don't like about the agreement (as summarized here) is that the agreement itself cannot be disclosed. That level of secrecy is not necessary. I'm just surprised that nobody else has gotten a copy of this legal document, decided not to sign it, and gave it to WikiLeaks already. Why does it take a Freedom of Information Act just to learn what kinds of terms you're going to face if you think about entering the development program?
  • by Hizonner (38491) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @11:37AM (#31414246)

    It's a bid deal because the contract is monstrously one-sided, and you'd think nobody would agree to it, yet somehow it manages to fly in a big chunk of the mobile phone market.

    It seems like you'd have to be nuts to invest in developing for the App Store, other than maybe for short-term, tactical purposes. Why, then, do so many people do it? Isn't that an interesting question?

    Apple has repeatedly demonstrated itself to be an unreliable, capricious business partner. Apple is slow and inconsistent about approving apps. It changes the rules and yanks apps all the time... just as this agreement permits it to do. It makes errors that cost you money and doesn't compensate you. Apple has shown, repeatedly over the whole life of the App Store, that those overreaching clauses aren't just in that contract for CYA purposes. Apple fully intends to use those clauses to hose your business if it feels like it for any reason whatsoever, and the reason may have little or nothing to do with you.

    Personally. I won't even buy Apple's phone because of the way they handle software. Nonetheless, many people seem to be willing to bet their livelihoods on Apple. That includes people who aren't big players, and lack the leverage to make it to Apple's advantage to forget about certain contract terms.

    What's the reason for that? Even if the answer just turns out to be that they're stupid, it's valuable to look at the question. Heck, you might even get some of them to smarten up.

    If the answer is not that they're stupid, but, say, that they don't have any better options, then one might want to think about why we have a market that doesn't provide any better options. Maybe there should be some changes. Maybe somebody reading this will figure out how to make them. I think there are better options, but obviously those developing for the iPhone think otherwise. Maybe they can explain why?

    And, yeah, it's about rights. First of all, the whole point of any contract is that you give up some rights. Second, the law, and the underlying moral philosophy, sometimes have some nasty things to say about one-sided contracts, interference with competition, artificial limitations of liability, and the like. Not everybody agrees, but there's a perfectly respectable and intellectually consistent body of thought that says a contract like that shouldn't be legal.

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @12:23PM (#31415018)

    Why not kill all humans and install robot overlords?

    I suggested that, as well, obviously.

  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:10PM (#31415790)
    I fail to see how this contract differs significantly with an Xbox or PS3 developer agreement, or a Digidesign Pro Tools plugin developer agreement, or a lot of partnership agreements for that matter. These are the terms that work for Apple, and the people that play by them makes gobs more money than anyone else thus far.
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:16PM (#31415864) Homepage Journal
    Apple has always been about tightly controlling the user experience and the overall brand for their products. Developers are not their customers. Developers are useful to Apple only if they advance Apple's goals. Those developers who have been successful in the iPhone OS and Mac markets understand this and have adapted accordingly. One could make the case that developers were Microsoft's primary market for years. Look where that led Microsoft. Their products gave developers and users all kinds of options, but the end result was bloat and annoyance. Customers are voting with their wallets and embracing products that just work. The tightly controlled Apple brand and user experience gives developers less freedom, and that annoys the hell out of developers. But until someone else can find a way to give developers the independence they desire while still delivering a tightly focused, elegant user experience, the choices seem to be: Take the constrained Apple route with its flaws, or take the more flexible Microsoft/Nokia/et. al. route with its flaws.
  • Because... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KingSkippus (799657) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:37PM (#31416198) Homepage Journal

    So why didn't EFF save themselves and the taxpayers some time and money and just go to the Apple developer site and hit ctrl-c?

    Because then Apple would have sued them, probably under the theory that the EULA is a copyrighted document, and the EFF infringed said copyright by publishing it against the terms under which it was disclosed to them.

    This way, everything is legal and above-board, and the EFF is free and clear of liability. If Apple goes after anyone, it will have to be NASA. And if they choose to do so, for one thing, most judges would simply throw the case out, as there is no legal obligation for the government to allow itself to be sued, and for another, even if the case were allowed, the U.S. government is likely much better prepared in terms of deep pockets to defend itself against Apple's corporate lawyers than the EFF is.

  • by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @03:01PM (#31417314)

    Obviously, that's the legal side of things.. I still don't think it's the correct thing to do. Apple has become the most dickhead company in the industry, far surpassing Microsoft or any other. Completely locked-down model, asshole contracts with developers etc.. Sure they're legally allowed to do so, but it's assholish move nevertheless.

    Actually, it's not that simple. From the point of view of the tinkerer, you're correct, it's *not* the right thing to do. From the point of view of the consumer who will *never* tinker with it, it's actually very much the right thing to do.

    This is because that lock down is what keeps the quality of the entire iPhone experience so high. Yes, there are fart apps and other mindless stupidities, but compared with other, more open, platforms, the overall quality of the software is higher. Yes, it means some specific apps or app types are disallowed, but the result is still a net gain, for the average consumer.

    People often think "for idiot users, the iPhone is best, for intelligent geeks, Android is best", but even then it's not so clear. First off, being a normal person isn't being an idiot (I know you didn't say this, so I'm not putting words in your mouth, it's just a common sentiment). Second, even a lot of geeks prefer things to work more smoothly, which the iPhone does on the whole.

    As for developers, it's a mixed bag. The barrier to entry is a little bit higher ($99, and some rules which are pretty easy to follow in most cases), but the potential rewards are significantly greater, and even if you're not in it for the money, just for the accomplishment of putting out an app that gets used, or your app is simply a way of helping people with some other thing for which you are more interested in, or whatever, having a pre-built store with such high quality as the iTunes App Store (yes, it has problems, but from sheer quality of the store and end-to-end interface for browsing, buying and installing, there's nothing better than iTunes) is invaluable, and the payment system extremely simple.

    So, the formula that makes the iPhone a success is the exact same formula that you are decrying as being "dickheaded" and "assholish". If Apple had kept things completely open, or even just as open as Windows Mobile, Android, and Pre (don't kid yourself, none of those systems are fully open, they are just more open than iPhone by varying degrees), the iPhone would not be *nearly* as successful nor *nearly* as high a quality of an experience as it is now. Sure, a small percentage more geeks would buy one. Maybe, as some percentage of geeks would also *not* have bought one, but at least on the geek side it would be hard to say which way the balance would move. On the consumer side, however, it's pretty clear that fewer people would buy an iPhone, or at the very least, fewer people would buy their *second* iPhone, after being so frustrated with the first.

    Finally, Apple's control helps prevent things like the recent story of the HTC Android phone that ships with the Mariposa bot net client. It also allows Apple to immediately pull apps that are harmful to the users or to the quality of the store itself (Apple has done this already) or in a worst case scenario, remove the app from people's phones altogether (this has never happened, but is reserved for cases of outright spyware, such as the Mariposa client). It's also interesting to note that all of the known exploits in the wild for iPhones have been for jailbroken iPhones, and not those with Apple's built-in security system intact.

  • by kimvette (919543) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @03:56PM (#31418112) Homepage Journal

    My roommate knows next to nothing about computers (she doesn't even know what a server is) but she knows her iPhone is a powerful handheld computer.

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